Himalayan Art Resources

Item: Vajrayogini (Buddhist Deity) - Vajravarahi, Red

རྡོ་རྗེ་རྣལ་འབྱོར་མ། སྣང་བརྙན་ཡོངས། 金刚瑜伽佛母(全图)
(item no. 101540)
Origin Location Tibet
Date Range 1600 - 1699
Size 41.50cm (16.34in) high
Material Copper
Collection Private
Catalogue # Potala Palace, Lhasa
Notes about the Central Figure

Classification: Deity

Appearance: Semi-Peaceful

Gender: Female

Interpretation / Description

Vajravarahi (Tibetan: dor je pag mo): Vajravarahi is one of the most popular and commonly depicted meditational deities of Tantric Buddhism. She is also found in the same Sanskrit literature (Abhidhana Uttaratantra) that describes the deity Chakrasamvara. Vajravarahi is a form of the deity Vajrayogini. The only difference in appearance is that Vajravarahi has a boar's head attached to her own, either placed on the top of the head or on the right side of the head. Following a Densatil style this sculpture was most likely created in the Sho Village workshops below the Potala Palace in the 17th or 18th century.

Sanskrit: Vajravarahi Tibetan: Dor je pag mo

Vajravarahi is typically red in colour although there are other forms and traditions where she can appear in any colour. She has one main face and two hands. The boar's head can be on top of Vajravarahi's head or on the left side depending on the tradition. The right hand holds aloft a curved knife and the left a skullcup to the heart. In the bend of the left elbow a katvanga staff is held against the left shoulder. Adorned with bone ornaments and a necklace of heads she stands in a dancing posture on a corpse seat.

This Vajravarahi sculpture is surely one of the finest ever created. The face is beautiful although likely re-painted in the recent past. The body proportions and movement are excellent. The ornamentation is precise and detailed, also textually accurate. The elaborate scarf (not part of the textual description) is beautifully excessive with studded semi-precious stones - likely original to the piece - framing the central figure and bringing the entire sculpture to a fullness that is greater than the sum of the parts. Sculptural perfection - art and iconography!

Jeff Watt 10-2010

Secondary Images
Related Items
Exhibition Appearances
Exhibition: Tibet, Treasures from the Roof of the World

Thematic Sets
Tibet: Densatil (Vajrayogini)
Sculpture: Figurative, Three Parts
Buddhist Deity: Vajrayogini, Vajravarahi Iconography
Buddhist Deity: Vajrayogini, Varahi (Sow Head on the Right Side of the Face)
Buddhist Deity: Vajrayogini (Miscellaneous Masterworks)
Buddhist Deity: Vajrayogini, Varahi (Sculpture Masterworks)
Tibet: Densatil (Masterworks)
Buddhist Deity: Vajrayogini, Vajravarahi Main Page
Tibet: Densatil Monastery Style Sculpture